By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
ACU continued its strong play in the Lone Star Conference South Division last weekend with a pair of three-game sweeps over Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
The Wildcats remain atop the LSC South Division improving to 18-6 overall and 4-0 in the conference. ACU is ranked No. 4 in the initial NCAA Division II Southwest Region poll. The top eight teams at the end of the regular season will advance to the regional tournament.
This is the first year that eight teams will reach the regional tournament. The last three years only the top six teams in the regional would advance to the tournament, with ACU finishing No. 7 all three seasons.
ACU handled Tarleton State Thursday night in Stephenville 30-23, 30-26, 30-21. Junior middle blockers Ashlee Motola and Amanda Slate led ACU with 14 kills each. Junior outside hitter Michelle Bernhardt finished with 12 kills, junior setter Lindsey Martin added 46 assists and senior libero Kellen Morrow and freshman outside hitter Liz Snoddy each finished with 10 digs.
The Wildcats bounced back from a disappointing loss to Lubbock Christian Tuesday and finished the Tarleton match with a .299 hitting percentage, six team blocks and held Tarleton to a .186 hitting percentage.
“We really controlled every aspect of the game,” said head coach Brek Horn. “We passed well, we hit well, and we controlled the ball. When we play like that we are a tough team to beat.”
After Thursday’s match in Stephenville, the team made the seven-hour trip to Kingsville to play the Lady Javelinas on Saturday. The drive to Kingsville is the longest road trip of the season for the Wildcats.
The team made the most of their trip dominating Kingsville in a 30-18, 30-23, 30-23 sweep.
Usual standouts Slate (14 kills and a .591 hitting percentage), Bernhardt (12 kills and 11 digs) and Martin (52 assists) led the Wildcats to their 18th win of the season.
Freshman outside hitter Abbie Lowry also proved a point finishing with 13 kills. Horn said the ongoing battle between Lowry and sophomore outside hitter Callie Delabano is healthy for the team.
“They are having a little friendly competition and it can only make the team better,” Horn said. “Saturday, we as a coaching staff, felt Abbie was hitting better in warm ups so she played. Whoever plays better in practice and in the games will play.”
The Wildcats return to action Thursday against division opponent Angelo State in a battle of first place teams. Both teams are 4-0 in the LSC South Division.